Rich Kreiner’s Yearlong Best of Part 2

Posted by on December 16th, 2009 at 5:11 PM

One nice thing about these “Best Of” recaps is being able to periodically reflect on specific artists, especially regarding what kind of calendar year they had. Compared to times when he was nowhere to be found in stateside comics, 2009 was a banner year for Roger Langridge.

First and foremost is the work he did for the comics of Jim Henson’s Muppet characters for the publisher Boom! Kids.  Langridge’s four-issue The Muppet Show miniseries sticks close in spirit and format to the much beloved television program. Short segments (page strips) are woven into longer stories (issues), mimicking nicely the structure of the show’s “variety hour” episodes. There are imitative opening panoramas (two-page splashes with Statler and Waldorf on the side heckling) and even a stab at “guest stars” (Richards and Jagger caricatures as an aged pair of “Zimmer Twins”). By word and by picture, the jokes come fast and furious, pitched to children, adults, groundlings and insiders with a heartening lack of discrimination. Pacing is terrific, mixing rapid-fire humor, poetic and lyric interludes (Gonzo’s ballet “Chicken Lake”) and spot-on send-ups of favored tv segments (“Pigs In Space”). Respecting the conventions of a, nominally, children’s comic, the whole shebang wraps up with a message, yet one that manages not to spoil the ending.

If anything, Langridge’s four issue Muppet miniseries The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson runs even more frantically amok. It mixes breakneck japes, plot convolutions, mystery, doppelgangers, rapidly shuffled interludes and, again, theater acts (once more Gonzo steals the show with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture “through the medium of shattered masonry!”). There’s great astonishment and satisfaction in Langridge’s ability to keep the whole production from careening off the tracks. By the conclusion he manages additionally to set up the ongoing Muppet series which he will continue to write and draw.

The ultimate compliment for his Muppet material may be that fans of the show will be hard-pressed to find cavalier liberties, conveniences or contrivances in handling cast or program’s tenor. At the same time, fans of Langridge will find little evidence of creative concession while handling corporate properties.

Next: Langridge’s handling of monstrous corporate properties.

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